Hometown Papers Profile CRS Staffers in Congo, India and Vietnam

Summer is a time when many CRS staff working around the world have an opportunity to take home leave to visit with family and friends, take care of some personal business and hopefully get some rest. It is also an opportunity for their hometown newspapers to catch up with them and hear about some of the stories of life overseas as a humanitarian worker.

This past week, three such articles were published that we’d like to share. Greg Auberry, CRS’ country representative in Vietnam, was profiled in the Philadelphia Bulletin. And Nicole Poirier, CRS’ country representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was written up in the Portland [Maine] Press Herald. Finally, an article on Jennifer Poidatz, CRS’ country representative in India, appeared in the Manchester, N.H. Union Leader.

The stories on Greg and Nicole are excerpted below, with links to the respective newspapers. The Union Leader piece on Jennifer is not online, but the author, freelancer Roger Amsden, has granted us permission to reprint it in the blog. Because of its length, we’ll put it in the next blog posting. Thanks Roger!  

Vietnam: Taxiing For Takeoff
By Joe Murray, The [Philadelphia] Bulletin

Greg Auberry, CRS/Vietnam. Photo by CRS.

In the seven years since trade relations between the United States and Vietnam were normalized, Vietnam has been struggling to harness its economic power, while creating an infrastructure that seeks to alleviate the burdens, largely poverty, that are placed on the shoulders of its people.

This balance cannot be successful alone, so Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a social justice organization whose “mission is to assist the poor and disadvantaged, leveraging the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to alleviate human suffering, promote development of all people, and to foster charity and justice throughout the world,” is on the ground in Vietnam, helping her people battle disease, poverty and corruption.

“The best way to describe Vietnam is that it is taxiing for takeoff,” stated Greg Auberry, the head of CRS’s humanitarian programs in Vietnam.

Auberry, who has family in America, lives with his wife in children in Vietnam and is visiting the States for two weeks. The humanitarian’s trip focuses on continued advocacy for increased American assistance in placing this wayward South Asian child on the right track.

As for the biggest obstacle facing a Vietnam on the road to free markets, Auberry suggests it is rural poverty.

“We need to spend some time on rural development and helping poorer farmers obtain the means of selling their product,” stated Auberry. “They need this to make money.”

Read the rest of this article.

Ex-Mainer ‘making a difference’ in Congo

The Auburn native runs three offices for Catholic Relief Services.

By WILLA PLANK Staff Writer

Nicole Poirier-Djonouma rethought her decision to live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when a two-day battle broke out in March, leaving her 6-year-old son, Imrhane, at the French Embassy after his school was evacuated.

Poirier-Djonouma, 36, who was raised in Auburn, said she reminded herself about the cause she was pushing for and the good she was doing in the country.

“I feel that I’m making a difference in their lives,” Poirier-Djonouma said.

Poirier-Djonouma said she is proud that her two sons have multicultural experience and will be global citizens.

“So many Americans don’t know that Africa is a continent, not a country,” she said.

Read the rest of this article.

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